Victoria Azarenka thought ‘she’d never play tennis again’ after pregnancy
Victoria Azarenka said she believed her tennis career would end with pregnancy, but she is determined to leave a legacy to help other women players in the future.
Azarenka was ranked sixth in the world when, in 2016, she fell pregnant with son Leo.
In a revealing interview with the BBC, she discussed the fear she felt at the time and how it has changed her attitude on many things since.
“I was scared,” the 30-year-old Belarusian said. “It wasn’t easy.”
“But then, it was all about knowing I was going to come back, and when I was going to come back.
“I felt it was a blessing, but I still wanted to have my own dreams and my own career.
“I knew I was going to come back, but my first initial thought was ‘oh my god, I’m never going to play tennis again’.”
“Before my son was born, tennis was my life. I said I was going to come back because it was still so important to me to prove it to people,” she says.
“But I don’t love it that much any more, but that’s fine, because I want to be with my son every single minute of my life. But tennis is my job.”
Azarenka, along with Serena Williams, has since successfully campaigned for greater rankings protection from the WTA.
Previously, women returning after pregnancy had to return within three years and could use a special ranking for eight tournaments within one year.
View this post on Instagram
From 2019, though, players will be able to use a protected ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three year period and will be exempt from facing seeded player in an opening round.
“We have the power to change the rules and we have done,” Azarenka added.
“I think that is what I want my legacy to be, that I’m fighting for women to be more comfortable, to break those stereotypes and move the needle a little forward.
“That evolution is going to continue to break boundaries and the illusion of women in sport.”
More from Tennis365:
‘I will do everything I can to keep Roger Federer No 1,’ jokes Dominic Thiem
Thiem eyeing a few more Grand Slam titles.
2020 French Open: Follow the action from Roland Garros with our live scores centre…
Catch the action with our live scores centre…
Dan Evans on the balls being used at the 2020 French Open: ‘You wouldn’t give to a dog to chew’
Dan Evans clearly not a fan of the French Open balls.
Miserable day for British hopes at gloomy French Open as Dan Evans, Andy Murray, Johanna Konta exit
Three British players lost on day one at Roland Garros.
Alexander Zverev puts US Open agony behind him as he makes strong French Open start
Zverev was playing his first match since losing to Thiem.
French Open day one: British trio crash out, Simona Halep makes it 15 wins in a row, what’s up next
The story of the opening day of play at Roland Garros.
‘I just didn’t play well,’ says Johanna Konta after ‘unfortunate’ off day at French Open
Konta makes early exit after reaching semi-final in 2019.
‘I’ll need to have a long, hard think,’ admits Andy Murray after French Open disaster
Murray won just six games in first-round defeat.
Mats Wilander questions why Andy Murray is still playing on what feels like his farewell tour
This increasingly feels like the Andy Murray farewell tour.
Teenage sensation Coco Gauff dumps ninth seed Johanna Konta out of French Open
Coco Gauff starts with a bang at Roland Garros.